Facebook (meta) stock: security, privacy and what to watch out for in 2022
Facebook or meta (FB) – Get the Class A report from Meta Platforms Inc. as the company rebranded itself, has a massive audience. The company has “nearly 3.6 billion people who actively use one or more of our services,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on the company’s latest earnings conference call.
But, as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Facebook has great power, but it has often struggled to behave with great responsibility.
The company ends the year with exciting opportunities ahead and a bold plan to reshape its brand. Zuckerberg and company, however, are doing so under a growing cloud of scrutiny.
What did Facebook know?
Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified before the US Senate and she was not kind to her former employer. She told Congress the company has chosen to prioritize growth over the safety of people on its platforms, and she shared internal data suggesting that Facebook knows some of its products have caused damage.
“The result has been more divisions, more harm, more lies, more threats and more fighting. In some cases, this dangerous online discourse has led to real
violence that injures and even kills people, ”Haugen said, NPR reported.
Haugen copied thousands of pages from internal documents before leaving Facebook. Many of them were subsequently published by the Wall Street Journal.
“During my time at Facebook, I realized a devastating truth: hardly anyone outside of Facebook knows what’s going on inside Facebook,” Haugen told Congress. “The company intentionally hides vital information from the public, the US government, and governments around the world.”
Facebook’s Zuckerberg responds
Zuckerberg has never been a great spokesperson for his company, but he tried to tackle its issues head-on in his last earnings call for calendar year 2021.
Before I move on to updating our products, I want to discuss the recent debate around our company. I think large organizations should be [inaudible], so I would much rather live in a society where they are than in a society where they cannot be. A good review helps us improve, but I think what we’re seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked material to paint a false picture of our business.
He also tried to go into and explain the steps the company is taking to make its products safer for customers.
The reality is that we have an open culture where we encourage discussion and research into our work so that we can move forward on many complex issues that are not specific to us. We have a state-of-the-art program to study the effects of our products and keep our progress transparent, because we care about getting it right. When making decisions, we need to balance competing social equity. Such as freedom of expression by reducing harmful content or allowing strong encrypted privacy by supporting law enforcement or enabling research and interoperability by blocking data as much as possible.
The CEO exposes the enormity of the problem, but he also made a big effort to defend his choices. However, he asked the government for advice and even outright regulation.
It’s a good sentence to say that we don’t solve these impossible compromises because we are all about the money. But the reality is that these questions are not primarily about our business, but about balancing different difficult social values. And I have repeatedly asked for the regulations to be clear, because I don’t think companies should be making so many of these decisions themselves. I take pride in our track record in navigating the complex trade-offs involved in delivering services on a global scale, and I’m proud of the research and transparency we bring to our work.
Zuckerberg also explained how Facebook has invested in keeping its customers safe and making its various apps – which include Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook – more secure environments.
Our programs are industry leading. We’ve made massive investments in safety and security with over 40,000 people and we’re on track to spend over $ 5 billion on safety and security in 2021. I think that’s more than any other technology company, even adjusted according to the scale. We set the standard for transparency with our quarterly application reports and tools like Ad Archive.
We have established a new model that allows independent academic researchers to access data securely. We pioneered the Supervisory Board as a model of self-regulation. And therefore, we believe our systems are the most effective at reducing harmful content in the industry, and I think any honest account of how we deal with these issues should include that. I also think any honest account should be clear that these issues aren’t primarily social media issues.
The challenge for Facebook is that, while making a good faith effort, Zuckerberg is right that the challenge is enormous. In 2022, the company will likely continue to come under scrutiny – perhaps more than other tech companies – and how it handles that may dictate what its long-term future looks like.